Essentialism-The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Essentialism-The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Essentialism Book Cover

ISBN: 0804137382
Date read: 2016-11-20
My recommendation: 8/10

Visit the Amazon page for detail and other reviews.

My summary

Solid actionable advice on what to focus on, questions to ask yourself, and how to make progress on the things most important to you.

My notes


In your personal or professional life, the equivalent of asking yourself which clothes you love is asking yourself, “Will this activity or effort make the highest possible contribution toward my goal?” Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 240.


If you’re not quite there, ask the killer question: “If I didn’t already own this, how much would I spend to buy it?” This usually does the trick. Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 246.


Essentialists invest the time they have saved into creating a system for removing obstacles and making execution as easy as possible. These three elements—explore, eliminate, execute Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 314.


a choice is an action. It is not just something we have but something we do. Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 400.


“What is the most valuable result I could achieve in this job?” Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 474.


STRATEGY IS ABOUT MAKING CHOICES, TRADE-OFFS. IT’S ABOUT DELIBERATELY CHOOSING TO BE DIFFERENT. —Michael Porter Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 529.


“What do I want to go big on?” The cumulative impact of this small change in thinking can be profound. Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 631.


For the last ten years now I have kept a journal, using a counterintuitive yet effective method. It is simply this: I write less than I feel like writing. Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 852.


“What question are you trying to answer?” Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 892.


Sleep is for high performers. Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 1067.


Our highest priority is to protect our ability to prioritize. Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 1136.


Says yes to only the top 10 percent of opportunities Uses narrow, explicit criteria like “Is this exactly what I am looking for?” Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 1187.


Here’s a simple, systematic process you can use to apply selective criteria to opportunities that come your way. First, write down the opportunity. Second, write down a list of three “minimum criteria” the options would need to “pass” in order to be considered. Third, write down a list of three ideal or “extreme criteria” the options would need to “pass” in order to be considered. By definition, if the opportunity doesn’t pass the first set of criteria, the answer is obviously no. But if it also doesn’t pass two of your three extreme criteria, the answer is still no. Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 1252.


Likewise, in your life, the killer question when deciding what activities to eliminate is: “If I didn’t have this opportunity, what would I be willing to do to acquire it?” Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 1293.


the question you should be asking yourself is not: “What, of my list of competing priorities, should I say yes to?” Instead, ask the essential question: “What will I say no to?” Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 1298.


Instead, ask the more essential question that will inform every future decision you will ever make: “If we could be truly excellent at only one thing, what would it be?” Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 1398.


Peter Drucker believed that “people are effective because they say no.” Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 1504.


“I am flattered that you thought of me but I’m afraid I don’t have the bandwidth” or “I would very much like to but I’m overcommitted,” Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 1521.


One effective way to do that is to remind your superiors what you would be neglecting if you said yes and force them to grapple with the trade-off. Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 1576.


“Yes, I’m happy to make this the priority. Which of these other projects should I deprioritize to pay attention to this new project?” Or simply say, “I would want to do a great job, and given my other commitments I wouldn’t be able to do a job I was proud of if I took this on.” Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 1578.


Use the words “You are welcome to X. I am willing to Y.” Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 1585.


“two basic questions the editor should be addressing to the author: Are you saying what you want to say? and, Are you saying it as clearly and concisely as possible?” Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 1807.


We need to eliminate multiple meaningless activities and replace them with one very meaningful activity. Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 1818.


ADD 50 PERCENT TO YOUR TIME ESTIMATE Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 2055.


Daniel Kahneman in 1979, refers to people’s tendency to underestimate how long a task will take, even when they have actually done the task before. Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 2065.


to create their risk management strategies, he suggests they start by asking five questions: (1) What risks do we face and where? (2) What assets and populations are exposed and to what degree? (3) How vulnerable are they? (4) What financial burden do these risks place on individuals, businesses, and the government budget? and (5) How best can we invest to reduce risks and strengthen economic and social resilience? Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 2088.


Think of the most important project you are trying to get done at work or at home. Then ask the following five questions: (1) What risks do you face on this project? (2) What is the worst-case scenario? (3) What would the social effects of this be? (4) What would the financial impact of this be? and (5) How can you invest to reduce risks or strengthen financial or social resilience? Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 2092.


But if you really want to improve the overall functioning of the system—whether that system is a manufacturing process, a procedure in your department, or some routine in your daily life—you need to identify the “slowest hiker. Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 2133.


ask yourself, “How will we know when we are done? Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 2158.


Ask yourself, “What are all the obstacles standing between me and getting this done?” and “What is keeping me from completing this?” Make a list of these obstacles. They might include: not having the information you need, your energy level, your desire for perfection. Prioritize the list using the question, “What is the obstacle that, if removed, would make the majority of other obstacles disappear? Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 2162.


Often just ten minutes invested in a project or assignment two weeks before it is due can save you much frantic and stressed-out scrambling at the eleventh hour. Take a goal or deadline you have coming up and ask yourself, “What is the minimal amount I could do right now to prepare? Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 2297.


FIGURE OUT WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 2535.


“In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present. Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 2568.


ask yourself, “What is essential?” Eliminate everything else. Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 2727.


“Fewer things done better,” “Communicating the right information to the right people at the right time,” and “Speed and quality of decision making.” Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 2736.


also suggest that once every ninety days or so you take an hour to read your journal entries from that period. Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less [Kindle Edition]. loc. 856.

The Author

Sean Oliver

Sean Oliver is a product marketing manager in Seattle, WA